The forward exchange rate (also referred to as forward rate or forward price) is the exchange rate at which a bank agrees to exchange one currency for another at a future date when it enters into a forward contract with an investor.
Multinational corporations, banks, and other financial institutions enter into forward contracts to take advantage of the forward rate for hedging purposes. The forward exchange rate is determined by a parity relationship among the spot exchange rate and differences in interest rates between two countries, which reflects an economic equilibrium in the foreign exchange market under which arbitrage opportunities are eliminated.
When in equilibrium, and when interest rates vary across two countries, the parity condition implies that the forward rate includes a premium or discount reflecting the interest rate differential. Forward exchange rates have important theoretical implications for forecasting future spot exchange rates. Financial economists have put forth a hypothesis that the forward rate accurately predicts the future spot rate, for which empirical evidence is mixed.
The forward exchange rate is the rate at which a commercial bank is willing to commit to exchange one currency for another at some specified future date. The forward exchange rate is a type of forward price. It is the exchange rate negotiated today between a bank and a client upon entering into a forward contract agreeing to buy or sell some amount of foreign currency in the future. Multinational corporations and financial institutions often use the forward market to hedge future payables or receivables denominated in a foreign currency against foreign exchange risk by using a forward contract to lock in a forward exchange rate. Hedging with forward contracts is typically used for larger transactions, while futures contracts are used for smaller transactions. This is due to the customization afforded to banks by forward contracts traded over-the-counter, versus the standardization of futures contracts which are traded on an exchange. Banks typically quote forward rates for major currencies in maturities of one, three, six, nine, or twelve months, however in some cases quotations for greater maturities are available up to five or ten years.
Relation to covered interest rate parity
Covered interest rate parity is a no-arbitrage condition in foreign exchange markets which depends on the availability of the forward market. It can be rearranged to give the forward exchange rate as a function of the other variables. The forward exchange rate depends on three known variables: the spot exchange rate, the domestic interest rate, and the foreign interest rate. This effectively means that the forward rate is the price of a forward contract, which derives its value from the pricing of spot contracts and the addition of information on available interest rates.
The following equation represents covered interest rate parity, a condition under which investors eliminate exposure to foreign exchange risk (unanticipated changes in exchange rates) with the use of a forward contract – the exchange rate risk is effectively covered. Under this condition, a domestic investor would earn equal returns from investing in domestic assets or converting currency at the spot exchange rate, investing in foreign currency assets in a country with a different interest rate, and exchanging the foreign currency for domestic currency at the negotiated forward exchange rate. Investors will be indifferent to the interest rates on deposits in these countries due to the equilibrium resulting from the forward exchange rate. The condition allows for no arbitrage opportunities because the return on domestic deposits, 1+id, is equal to the return on foreign deposits, [F/S](1+if). If these two returns weren’t equalized by the use of a forward contract, there would be a potential arbitrage opportunity in which, for example, an investor could borrow currency in the country with the lower interest rate, convert to the foreign currency at today’s spot exchange rate, and invest in the foreign country with the higher interest rate.
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Ofer Abarbanel is a 25 year securities lending broker and expert who has advised many Israeli regulators, among them the Israel Tax Authority, with respect to stock loans, repurchase agreements and credit derivatives. Founder TBIL.co STATX Fund.